Find yourself sitting next to a smooth executive on your no-frills flight? Here’s why.

International business travel to and from the UK started to fall in 2008, dropped by over 20% in 2009 and continued to decrease in the first half of 2010, according the the Civil Aviation Authority as reported in the Telegraph. An added problem this year was the closure of European airspace due to Icelandic volcano disruption.

It seems that businessmen are now to be found in the economy section or even using no-frills airlines like the rest of us. For example, the CAA calculates that easyJet has a quarter of the London-Amsterdam business market, while Ryanair attracts a third of London-Dublin business travellers, despite its ‘cut service to basics’ approach. And it appears that the economic recovery won't change this trend. Hardest hit this year were routes between the UK and the European Union and between the UK and North America.

As the economy picks up, business travel will surely revive, but cuts made may permanently affect the way companies allow employees to travel. With globalisation and the emergence of new economies, face-to-face meetings are unlikely to be ousted by video-conferencing, but we may continue to see European businessmen just a tad cramped in the seat next to us when we’re next flying low cost.

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